Based in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Bluestone National Park is an all weather resort, suitable for families, couples and friends alike. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit this stunningly beautiful part of the UK, as a Bluestone Blogger. We were offered a 4 night midweek break and the use of a Gateholm Lodge for the duration of our stay.
A good 5 hour drive from Sidcup, Bluestone boasts 500 acres of woodland to explore. Although we visited toward the end of January when weather can be questionable, the odd rainfall didn’t detract from the beauty of the location.
We arrived on Monday evening, where check in to our lodge was quick and efficient. We were given the map of the site and asked if we had any further questions, then we drove to our accommodation. Bluestone is similar to Centerparcs in this regard; guests are allowed their cars only for the purpose of loading and unloading. After that, no cars are allowed on the resort and guests have to make their way around on foot, by bike or hire a golf buggy.
Our upside down Gateholm Lodge was fantastic, with an en suite double room, two twin rooms and an additional bathroom. Upstairs boasted a spacious and clean open plan living area with a kitchen, dining table and comfortable lounge area with a TV. Many families visit Bluestone and the care had been taken to keep the lodges safe for little people, for example, safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Although great for families, Bluestone is also a great location for those looking for a more active trip. The resort itself is hilly and has plenty of trail, which continues with country bridle paths as you go out of the resort. This made it a trail runner’s dream and I had some fun exploring with a couple of runs. Top tip: bring trail shoes! My road shoes were muddy by the end of this trip and the terrain is uneven in places. I also spotted a few people taking their mountain bikes down to the trails and despite not being a cyclist, I immediately longed to have a go.
There’s a lot to do on site. For the more active, there’s also plenty of great walks including the fabulous nature trail which is especially magical at night for the little people when the fairies come out to play. I was reminded of Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood and loved it perhaps even more than Rose did. Guests can also pay to try out activities such as archery and rock climbing, as well as adrenaline inducing zip wires, amongst others. We were content to enjoy exploring the trails, but we did make time to check out the Blue Lagoon, their all-weather water park, which is free to guests of Bluestone. This was Rose’s first time in a pool (I know, bad parent), but after the initial nerves, she loved it. The complex is well thought out with toddler splashing areas, a pool, a heated outdoor pool, flumes and jacuzzi, giving something for everyone to enjoy.
I may enjoy an active trip, but I’m a firm believer in relaxation. Bluestone’s Well Spa Retreat offers a variety of treatments and options for me time on site. I decided to treat myself to a Wellness Massage, an aromatherapy massage focussing on two areas. I had woken up that morning with a stiff neck, so my therapist treated me to a relaxing back and neck massage, before working on my calves, which felt great. I paid £70 for this and it included two hours beforehand to take advantage of the spa facilities. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to lay down and relax in the sauna for a while, which was the perfect way to finish off the trip.
If I had one top tip for those visiting Bluestone, it would be to visit a supermarket beforehand for essentials. The resort general store has a good selection, but is expensive. For items like teabags, coffee, cereal, etc, stock up and bring those with you. Although a “starter” pack of dishwasher tablets and a mini washing up liquid bottle is provided, a tea/coffee pack isn’t, so if you need a caffeine hit, don’t forget to bring them.
There are several dining options on site. We tried out Tŷ Coffi for tea and cake one morning (lemon sponge is fantastic, Victoria sponge a bit dry, great ice-cream), and The Knights Tafarn, the village pub. We visited here three times in total, for a drink on our first day, the free pub quiz on the final evening and we also ate there. I highly recommend the lamb cawl, a hearty lamb stew served with a crusty baguette and massive hunks of cheddar cheese. The lamb was tender, the juices flavoursome and it was the perfect meal for a cold January evening. My husband’s vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie was also a big hit. Food is priced at the slightly higher end of typical pub prices – expect to pay £10-£14 for a main. We also tried out The Chippy for fish and chips one night. Fantastic fish, good batter, decent chips. Portions are good – we shared one large portion of chips between three of us. Expect to pay a little more than the average chippy, but it’s not over the top.
Once upon a time, I’d have been content to spend my holidays sunbathing, reading and drinking lots of cocktails, but nowadays, I prefer to have a more active break. Bluestone is a great option for this without having to fly abroad and the accommodation options range from studios hosting a couple, to lodges able to accommodate up to 14 people. I’d love to go back with a group of friends in the summer months to spend some time on the trails, before recuperating with a barbecue in the sun after.
Prices vary depending on the time of year and the type of lodge, but for a lodge for 4, including a trip to the thermal spa for the adults in March, expect to pay around £350 for 4 nights. Price jumps to £850ish during the Easter Holidays. Book at bluestonewales.com.